Monday, April 28, 2014

Happoren No Kata

Back in 2005 when I was translating Roland Habsetzer's work "Bubishi" I discovered he included this section on Happoren, while not directly affiliated with the Bubishi, it might be of interest.

Page 214         The Treasure Lost and Rediscovered – Happoren No Kata

A)    On the History…

One knows now that the kata Sanchin had been learnt by Kanruo Higaonna (1853-1916), the father of the line Goju-ryu Karate-do, after some Chinese experts established the colony of Kumemura, to Okinawa the same [?] (*). Nobody can affirm that this premiere form of Sanchin was really close to the kata that one sees today under this name. One certainty only: it was formerly practiced with open hands. And then another disconcerting observation: one does not find, today, some traces of Sanchin in China. (There is however this sui nim tao, the sequence of the “small idea”  practiced in the style Wing Tsun Kuen, or Wing Chun Gung-Fu, which is an authentic exercise of Chi-Kung more of a form of combat, and of which the movements of wrist recall certain passages of Happoren or of Tensho. Look at this for further …). Some claim that the Goju-ryu way of making Sanchin would come from the style of the Crane and that the Ueichi-ryu way would come more from the style of Preying Mantis. Or then the contribution of the masters of Okinawa themselves has been more significant, in the genesis of this form, that one can’t always say up to here. We will develop this assumption further (see page 235).

Kanruo Hiagonna thus learned a kata of Chi-Kung next to [from] the Chinese colony of Kumemura. And only the external form was transmitted to him? Or was he unable to understand the internal sense of this kata?  Not while he reproduced a pale copy? By incomprehension or choice? Then Higaonna left for Foukien, in China. He found Rokkishu-No-Kata there evoked in the Bubishi (that one known as the same ancestor of Tensho-No-Kata created later by Chojun Miyagi, student of Hiagonna), which was perhaps Happoren-No-Kata. One will never be able more than to lose oneself in conjecture. But it seems that Higaonna did not teach it (the form) on his return. For not risking to disturb his Okinawan students in that [which] they already practiced under “San Chin”., that’s to say “the Three Steps”?  Or because he had seen, in Rokkishu-Happoren, a level above?  Because Sanchin was the feeling of power of a block, easy to perceive. But one needed greater maturity in the art of the empty hand vice Main to perceive correctly the presence of the suppleness behind the apparent force, and the direction of this force, much more subtly mastered, in Happoren.

Chojun Miyagi, who perhaps saw a day his master performing Happoren, reprised the same method that he in this sense, that he did not take this kata into his teaching. While creating yet, thereafter, the kata Tensho, it made however an interesting attempt to permit the feelings of kata of Happoren, impossible to approach through kata breathing and to pure muscular contraction of the line of Sanchin (but who still knows today that Tensho from is origin was concluded with a very flexible movement from the arms imitating the beating wings of a bird with a return to a state of progressive calm, today replaced by mawashi-uke then morote-teisho-uchi given with maximum of power? . And then, he transmitted the kata of Hakufa, also appeared in Foukien, with these movements of hands imitating the beats of the wings and the strikes of White crane beak.

Happoren-No-Kata (the “kata of the eight directions while continuous’) is today to the heart of research returning to the sources of actual Karatedo. Part mastered in the history of the transmission of the art of  the empty hand. from China to Okinawa, It is undoubtedly one of these missing links from an impossible chain to reconstitute while ignorant. Though always studied in its original province, Fuijan, in Southern China, It remains to this current hour actually more or less unknown elsewhere.

 (*) Even the work of Koshiki Kata of R. Habersetzer in the Amphora Editions. Sanchin (Samchien, into Chinese) would come from Cheung Siu Shu, student of Fang Jiniang, to cultivate Chi. (internal Force). In its original form, breathing was fluid and flexible. It will not become hard in sound (ibuki) than with the teachings of Miyagi.

Page 215

On Okinawa, Tokashiki Iken Sensei taught within the framework of his school of Tomari-ryu and Goju-ryu. In Japan, only the Gojukensha of Tokyo practices under the direction of Ohtsuka Tadahiko Sensei, who learnt himself along side  Tokashiki Iken (and completed thanks to much research in China) and who applies himself to hand down in his turn a form which has indeed all the chances of being exact (since the kata isn’t really described in the Bubishi). If the Bubishi starts has to make itself the object of a few  publications known to rare circles of initiates, Happoren No Kata however still never was published, which is not the same in Japan: while combining this presentation in the following pages with that which we had already made in Koshiki No Kata, the reader will have at one’s disposal for the premiere time in the world a complete and detailed view of what one can consider as a forgotten treasure now rediscovered.

The comparison of Happoren-No Kata and Sanchin-No-Kata highlights very quickly three significant modifications in the execution of the quan (kata) appearing in South China when it was passed from the continent to the Island of Okinawa.

While passing from China to Okinawa, the form of execution of the Southern Chinese Tao [Way] was modified on three very significant points:

- On the level of the technique: they have closed the hand. for better hardening it while striking objects like the makiwara.  From the blow, the diagram of the transmission of energy was modified, the wave of energy propelled through the hand stops itself at the end of the fist. What one wants to say is that obtaining a certain result more quickly tangible one is cut, from Okinawa, of the ulterior possibility of generating an incomparably higher energy. One develops the external version. (the fist which breaks a material as a hammer would do it) with detriment of internal reality. (the hand, which, on simple application, is able to break a material under the effect of a sort of energy vibration) (*).

- On the level of the feeling [sensation]: this one obviously follows from that of the technical form. Thus, whereas in Happo-Ren, the force must radiate with the interior towards the exterior, on all the periphery of the body, and the same beyond (one finds the the sensation of the sphere of Tai Chi), that which stays (for example Sanchin) isn’t  more an inverted form [intravertie?] in which the executed guard, in contraction, all its force turns in itself, returning itself towards the center. Spectacular (= external), but the opposite of the true exercise of Chi-Kung which is Happo-Ren.

- On the level of the spirit of Kata: what was sought of a union of internal energy with cosmic energy is reduced to a demonstration of ego. By badly executing (or with the first degree, apparently) Kata, the man is put to bring back towards himself then the traditional work has to do it emitting. for emits [expressed] in union with lines of force which overtake it. Instead(in lieu) of growing, it shrinks

It is obvious when reversing to some extent the movement of the energy generated in the gesture (contraction instead  of extension), one ends with some perverse effects,  pre-judiciable to term for health. Thus Sanchin, such as it is generally executed, burning on the spot the body’s energy… what is spectacular but finishes by destruction, such fire which attracts but burns. [translator – as the fire attracts and then burns the moth]   On the contrary, breathing remains natural in Happo-Ren. One never forces. Inhalation  is done through the nose, Expiration by the mouth, supplely, for bringing into balance, again the energy in the body and not to block it with a powerful muscular contraction. This expiration is hardly audible. Last, in Happo-Ren, the position of the feet is very natural, [the stance is] not very low, and where the tension is done on the exterior: one sees here still feet is very natural, not very low, one sees here still the difference with the present Sachin, to the position [stance]  strongly pronounced and where the tension comes from the interior. It will be noticed however that the older Sanchin (recovered again by Gogen Yamaguchi for example) did not have a position [stance] as crushed and in the Ueichi-ryu Sahcin (or Seisan) as are still  perpetuated with the open hands (again the fore-arms were formerly opened on a more horizontal level, such as Happo-Ren, then they were (are, became) progressively closed moving to 90 degrees….).

One sees that, compared to its ancestor, the line of Kata Sanchin was developed in a direction almost to the opposite. Contrary to appearances, Sanchin became an external Kata, with the seeking of the feeling of force certain easier to find. It makes one forget the initial viewpoint


(*) See 'Chi Kung, la maitrise de l’energie interne’ from the same author by Editions Amphora

Page 216

Of Masters of the past, correctly transmitted in Happo-Ren, but so [if] badly understood the real man must learn to radiate around oneself, to irradiate his energy on the others, to project his force. In fact the heart of  a philosophy of  Budo used and manufactured (constructed).

Here some useful additional directions of thought for a correct practice of Happoren, and that one finds in the Bubishi.

° Breathing must go with the movement. All the techniques are directed by correct breathing. When the body stretches itself and inhales, it is like a gigantic wave from the ocean, which swells without any resistance (principle of periphery [circumference] the expansion of internal energy). When it exhales, return in a stable position, the muscular concentration which accompanies the exhalation makes an immutable mountain of it (principle of returning to the center of the energy). When extending the arms towards the front, exhale while preserving 50% of volume of the air (never not to exhale completely). While inhaling  feel your body become light, while exhaling, Rooting.  After having forced the exhalation, return an instant to normal, calm breathing. Listen to your breathing, and be conscious of each part of your body.

° It is necessary to breathe by the diaphragm ( known as ventral breathing). To arrive there, it is necessary that the spine remains vertical and perpendicular to the position of the stomach.

° It must have a constant, but flexible, muscular contraction, in particular on the level of the trapezoids, deltoids, the pectorals.

° The basic position is natural. It is necessary to move (to displace) as if one walked.  A step starts in flexibility and finishes with solidarity, on a feeling being rooted. The muscles of the legs are firm but flexible in order to permit mobility.

° The techniques are developed to leave from the points where the [tips of the] elbows are and contact with the waist. The force rises from the belly (hara), the hands are not the instruments [where the force comes from]. The force goes until the end of the fingers. The energy must radiate towards the exterior, such as the rays of the sun.

° If is necessary to keep mental concentration but always [remain] receptive. The eyes, clear like the moon [a metaphor like moonlight?], must remain ready to see what could not be easily seen. The vision is peripheral (not focused. Not, in effect, “tunnel vision”).

° In the principle of the alterating of the supplenss. and hardness. (ju/go, or Mandarin rou/gan), one should not only see one physical principle. To balance both, it is to find the interior unity, therefore to defeat his “ego”, which is for each one his worst adversary. If one thus thinks of the principle go like the force of the body and having the ferocity of the mental one, it is necessary to evoke in ju not only the flexibility of the body but also that of mental (kindness of the spirit, faculty of breaking off [away] and adapting oneself.).

It is obvious that, like numbers of Koshiki Kata, Happoren proposes a physical groundwork like supporting a philosophical method. To the practitioner to make an intelligent distinction between the apparent and the real…..

B) Of the Technique…

The photographs 168 to 227 show the unfolding of Happoren-No-Kata.

Here is a summary description, being of course of an correct apprenticeship (training) of this form, so valuable in the message to the time physical and mental which she vehicle (? This may be, ‘so valuable in the message of the physical and mental time that this is the means’ ?), cannot imagine oneself to direct contact of a master. So much it is difficult to abandon ideas received and of acquired reflexes. So much it is easy to be mistaken (like it has undoubtedly already been formerly made on Okinawa.) on the support respiratory. And so much it is dangerous to be let go, once more, to a banal exterior imitation.

N.B. The numbers between the brackets referent with the photographs. Those have been intentionally taken with the course of an unfolding on an oblique axis of kata compared to the object. They match up with

Page 217 –

Thus the drawings published in Koshiki kata (pages 284 to 287), where the development is presented from the front.

After the salute ( opening ), (from the )position heiko-dachi, hands crossed in front of the abdomen (left hand in front), while finishing the exhalation) (168), raise up the hands, fingers towards the front (the left hand turned to position itself underneath), while inhaling (169) slowly. Form morote-chudan-uchi-uke opened hands, palms towards the top, with a short exhalation (170).

Inhale (slowly) while drawing the hands level at the sides, palms always to the top (171). Turn the palms to the bottom, and slowly, vertically, lower the hands, along the body, fingers towards the front. On exhalation (172).

1st group: make a short step sliding towards the front, the right foot (which remains in front) then the left foot, by curtly raising the hands, palms to the top, forearms to horizontal, on a short inhalation (173). The knees are slightly flexed, the center of gravity in the middle of the position, which is a little more pronounced than migi-shizentai without going as far as zen-kutsu. This isnot either sanchin-dachi: the knees are naturally plaices towards the front and the toes oriented in this same direction. This is the usual position for the whole (rest) of Happoren save (except) the opening sequence and pictures 200 to 204 also like 215 to 218.

The series of the movements is made on place (on one place or spot).Exhale gently while turning the wrists bent (flexed) of a kind to push in before you from the base of the palms, fingers towards the exterior and the top (175 to 176). Then, a fast movement, simultaneous and symmetrical , returning the hands towards you, palms towards the front, fingers towards the exterior and a little upwards. At the time of a new sharp inhalation. During this phase, one lowers a little the position (of the stance). Pinch with the two hands angled at 30 degrees from the line of the shoulders towards the sides, the front and the top, slowly, while relaxing (loosening) all the position towards the top as if you want to take-off. The movement stops when the arms are outstretched  and the palms turned towards the ground (177 to 180). This release (trigger) is done on the slow sound of exhalation , from the bottom of the throat. Always on the spot: sink a little in the position, the chest always vertical, while curtly bringing back for the wrists strongly flexed, thumbs upwards. The elbows are to the body, the forearms to the horizontal. On the first time if inhalation (181). On the second time of supplementary inhalation, turn over the wrists towards the exterior without  moving the position of the arms (182). Caution: movements 181 and 182 are made only one time with inhalation in reality tied (together). Open the hands, make a short rotation which brings the tips of the fingers upwards and from the interior towards the exterior, on respiratory blocking (on breathing and blocking?) , then slowly push the palms towards the front, wrists strongly flexed. The fingers are direct towards the exterior and the top. The forearms remain to the horizontal from time 181 to time 184, but the elbows part (depart) a little in front of the body at the time of 184. Make this movement on exhalation surrounding strong and sonorous then finish the expiration quiet and natural without force. Return to a state of calm.

(N.B. same evolution after each expiration: strong then calm!)

Photographs 181 to 184 illustrate a group of movements which returns systematically  to the end of each phase of the kata (and which recalls one of the real  energetic “secrets” of Happoren…)

Remember that in all the techniques of Happoren, the energy does have to be (well chosen) on the circumference (in external limit of the bodies contour) and never brought back to the center, like one does it in modern  Sanchin No Kata.

2nd group: not illustrated (begin again photographs 177 to 184).

It is the integral reproduction of the 1st group, after a new sliding step. Note that the right foot remains in front that that the hands finish in the position of time 184.

3rd group: not illustrated (begin again photographs 177 has 184).

Again one time, the integral reproduction of the 1st group (with the same remarks) on a new sliding step. One goes then to advance to three repetitions (in …?) but without making an alternate step like in Sanchin.

Page 218 –

4th group: make a sliding step with the left foot, to 45 degrees from the central axis of Kata without modifying the attitude top of the body (185). On the spot: turn the right hand, palm to the top, and  bring it back towards you in a circular motion finishing in chudan-uchi-uke. Simultaneously do the same with the left hand, but without turning it, to finish in chudan-kake-dachi (186 to 187). These movements are very rapid, on a brief inhalation. Ease the arms towards the exterior and the top, as in 178 to 180, except the orientation of the hands is different: right palm to the top, left to the bottom (188). On a long exhalation, first sonorous then calm.  Photo’s 189 to 181, reproduce the section shown in photo’s 181 to 183.

5th group: pivot towards the left by closing the left foot then making a sliding step with the right foot on an symmetric axis from the axis of the work preceding (192, 193).  Photo’s 194 to 199 are the symmetrical reproduction of photo’s 186 to 191. Move back the left foot then the right, heels on the same line and subside (sink) yourself while letting your hands hang before you (200). Launch (throw) the hands towards your front while you stand up and with the arms very loose (slack) (the movement starts by raising the shoulders then by launching the arms in (the strike of the  whip). Strike to the height of the chest with the knife hands, wrists very flexed, and push out  the kiai (210 to 202). Photo’s 203 and 204 are the reproduction of photo’s 182 and 183, to a new side, on inhalation then exhalation.

6th group: take a sliding step while starting from the left foot, in front (205). On the spot, launch the left wrist towards the left (but without modifying the position of the elbow), palm towards you (206). Short inhalation. Lower the forearm in front of you, parallel to the chest, while exhaling (207). Left Chudan-uchi-uke, palm returning to the top, on inhalation (208). Exhale (strong then calm) while turning over and then slowly pushing the left palm towards the front (209).

   N.B. of photo’s 205 to 209, the left elbow acts as a fixed point, and the right hand does not move. Photo 209 is a return to position 205.

Photographs 220 to 223: the movements of this 6th group (like those which follow, executed symmetrically) know an alternative in which the left arm is lowered (221), going obliquely from top to bottom, with light rotation of the hips in the direction of the hand which ‘pierces’ before this last doesn’t raise itself quickly to the position from which it departed (222). Then return has the starting position 223 = 205).

7th group: take a step with the right foot (the only alternate step in the kata), follow a little left (210). The photographs 211 to 214 are the symmetrical reproduction of the photos 206 to 209. The photographs 224 to 227 illustrate the possible alternative for this group (see the remark for the 6th group).

8th group: move back the left foot then the right, heels on the same line, and subside (stop) to the front as at photo 200 but by forming the fists in front of the chest (215). The next time is composed of two techniques linked together quickly on only one exhalation and only one kiai: yoko-morote-chudan-tetsui while you recover (do not tighten the arm backwards, to preserve their roundness) then shomen-morote-chudan-tetsui, well to the front. Lower at once the hands in front of you, left above, palms to the bottom, with a quick exhalation, (216 to 218).

Join the left foot to the right and raise yourself to Rei.

The study de Happoren No Kata (of which certain details of the sequences could evolve with the degree of advancement of the practice)  is accompanied with an extremely rich bunkai, based on the work of the wrists and the forearms. This Bunkai undoubtedly evokes possible the Chinese technique of Tui-Shou (“sticky hands” such as it is studied for example in Tai Chi Chaun). An obvious recollection of the origin of the of authentic Koshiki Kata, “keystone” of a system of combat (badly) transmitted from China to Ryukyu… Its study can be done only by direct teaching and completely overwhelmed by the framework of this work.

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